♫ It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Toys in ev’ry store,
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door. ♫
Toys in every store is right! Have you had a million and one conversations with your kids lately about what they want for the holidays? I know we have! As the catalogs roll in each afternoon with the mail, they sit down and start circling!
As both a mom and a professional organizer, it’s important to me that we help our kids prioritize what they ask for at the holidays. We do this by having them fill out an Intentional Wish List. To get us even more into the Holiday spirit and focused more on what matters (giving back, spending time together as a family) we also have a fun tradition – the Kindness Advent Calendar!
The concept is very simple. Each day leading up to Christmas or Hannukah you do one random act of kindness, an activity that involves giving to others or a fun holiday family activity.
One of my favorite activities we do each year is having the kids buy each other gifts. It’s wonderful seeing them thinking about their sibling’s interests, and what kind of gift would make them happy.
Another favorite is taking hot coffee and baked goods to the amazing teachers who stand outside braving the cold, rain and snow during their school’s morning carpool. We fill a thermos of coffee, put it in a box with notes from the kids, and hand it off during the morning rush. My kids start asking when we are going to do this before it even hits December 1.
You can get creative with what you’d like to put on your Kindness Advent Calendar, but I will caution you to be realistic. Don’t do more than you think you can handle in a month. Some years are better than others. Do what you can. A little bit is better than nada.
Need help coming up with ideas?
Check out my Kindness Advent Activities Free Printable. It has nine pages of activities I’ve used in the past, broken into categories (Acts of Giving, Random Acts of Kindness, & Fun Family Activities) and includes some blank strips for original ideas. There are many pages, but just use the ones that you like.
If you live in the Annapolis, Maryland area, here is a list of local volunteer opportunities from Chesapeake Family. They also have a new seasonal guide out this year with fun holiday activities for families. Read the fall guide here, and winter here.
Putting it All Together
Normally, this is the part where I’d tell you to plan ahead. But, this year, I’ve done that for you. If you’re short on time, sign up for my newsletter to download a prepared 25-day Kindness Advent Calendar. Nothing requires too much prep, so you can print and go!
If you prefer to plan our your own Kindness Advent Calendar, the first step is to get out your calendar and plan which activities you will do on certain days. Only do something if you have the time to complete it from start to finish on that day. On busier days, stick to the simpler activities that don’t require any work, like, “Give someone a compliment today.”
A few more tips:
- Group Things Together
For example, schedule “Make Christmas Cookies” as a family activity on a Sunday, and then follow up the next few days with “Bring cookies to a fire station,” “Bring your teacher coffee and cookies,” and “Ding dong ditch your neighbors and leave a plate of cookies.” If you know you are going to be out running errands on a Saturday, select the “Buy a gift for your sibling” activity for that day.
- Imperfect is Perfect
Don’t ask, WWMSD (What Would Martha Stewart Do?). It’s really the thought that counts! If you don’t have time to make cookies, buy them. Or meet in the middle and buy the refrigerated dough that you can just pop in the oven. If your kids don’t like to draw, use pictures or art projects they’ve done at school and use them when you write the notes to military and family members.
- Involve Your Kids
Let your kids do as much as possible. Have them write the notes if they have the skills, have them collect the items to donate from around the house, have them select the holiday movie to watch, etc. You can even encourage them to think of new acts of kindness to add to the calendar. The more involvement, the better.
Display Your Calendar
If you’re using my premade calendar, you can just print and hang. Mark off each activity as you complete it. I’ve set it up to start on December 1st, so you have the entire month to prep for the big day.
You can also print off the idea list above, cut out each activity, and turn them into a paper chain.
Directions for a Paper Chain Advent Kindness Countdown:
- Print the Kindness Activities List
- Pick out 24 that you can realistically do, and then number them after coordinating with your calendar.
- Have your kids cut out the ones you selected into strips.
- Make a paper chain by looping them through one another and stapling.
- Tear off one act of kindness a day and complete the activity.
- Feel good that you are creating a new tradition for your family (that doesn’t involve hiding an elf around your house)!
Adding them to another advent calendar you have is also quick and easy. Sadly, my favorite pocket calendar from Hearth & Hand doesn’t seem to be available at Target this year, but they do have several cute options for just $10, or you can purchase/make mini stockings and attach them to a garland for an easy DIY calendar.
If you aren’t doing any activities that require prior planning, just cut out the ideas and put them in a mason jar and have your kids draw them at random!
Keep in Touch!
Let me know how it goes and send me any new ideas you come up with. I’ll add them to the list for next year! And if you do decide to implement these ideas with your own family, post on social media using the hashtag #kindnessadventcalendar. You can follow me on Instagram HERE.
Need a Gift Idea?
Since we are on the subject of being intentional around the holidays, consider gifting experiences this year. Check out this list of local, small business-based activities that would make great presents for everyone on your list.
You – and your kids – will seriously love planning and participating in a Kindness Advent Countdown this year, and it will put you all in the right frame of mind by the time December 25th rolls around. The entire team at Systems by Susie is wishing you a holiday season filled with joy and fun family traditions!
Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…